Warning: This Story Contains Spoilers for Orphan First Kill
Orphan: First Kill star Julia Stiles breaks down the movie’s biggest twist. The first Orphan movie came out in 2009, following the couple Kate and John Coleman as they adopt a 9-year-old orphan named Esther and welcome her into their family. But after a string of strange and violent occurrences, it is revealed that Esther isn’t an innocent child as many perceived, rather she is a 33-year-old hypopituitaric woman named Leena Klammer who poses as a child and destroys families. Orphan quickly fostered a cult following and after years of demands for a follow-up, the prequel movie, Orphan: First Kill helmed by William Brent Bell, was released on Paramount+ in August 2022, with Fuhrman reprising her role.
Orphan: First Kill delves into the origin story of Leena, tracking down the events that led her to adopt the identity of Esther. In the prequel, Leena escapes her psychiatric facility and poses as Esther Albright, the missing daughter of the wealthy Allen Albright and his wife Tricia. Esther’s return helps Allen out of his grief, but Tricia is wary of her, as it is later revealed in a shocking plot twist that Tricia is hiding her secret. She knows that her daughter was accidentally killed by her brother Gunnar, but she plays along with Esther’s act only for the sake of her husband’s wellbeing. Tricia strikes a deal with the impostor, but the latter misuses the opportunity and threatens to harm the Albright family. As a loving and protective mother, Tricia fights back, but ultimately Esther takes the lead with her manipulations, killing the entire Albright household.
Now in the exclusive interview with Screen Rant for Orphan: First Kill, Stiles discusses the unexpected twist in the movie. The actress explains that she approached her role as Tricia as two different characters, so fans cannot guess her secret before the actual reveal. The star also explains her character’s motivation, adding how exciting it was to put up a fight against Esther without letting the truth slip away. Read what Stiles said below.
Oh, it was so fun. I mean, it was so fun. Where do I even begin? What’s really fun about the movie for fans of the first one is that now that we know Esther’s secret, it’s fun to watch her trick everyone and see how far she can push it. Like, how much longer is she going to get away with this? And for me, Tricia, I was almost like playing two different characters. I treated it like the beginning part of Tricia, I want it to be as sort of believable and realistic as possible. You know that she is desperate to heal her family and she will protect her family at all costs like she says in the trailer. But then, once she figures out what’s going on with Esther, to see how she handles that is, I think really interesting. And that’s what drew me to it. Esther’s kind of met her match in that way
The reception to Orphan: First Kill has been somewhat mixed, but some critics and viewers feel the movie efficiently leverages the backstory of the first film, delivering a blend of campy horror and soapy extravaganza that is a hard left turn from the original premise. First Kill doesn’t repeat the slow reveal about Esther/ Leena’s real identity, after all, it’s something that has been disclosed already. The strongest element in Orphan First: Kill is that, as Stiles mentions, the prequel gives an opponent to Esther who pushes her to her limits. Watching the two women go head-to-head against each other really ups the thrill quotient in the movie, keeping audiences on the edge of their seats as they anxiously anticipate the outcome of the chilling and brutally violent cat-and-mouse game.
While the original Orphan movie potentially spoiled the ending for the prequel, it cannot be denied that the jaw-dropping twist about Tricia knowing Esther’s truth subverted viewers’ expectations. While Fuhrman was as terrifying as ever as the master of deception in Orphan: First Kill, Stiles also served as a fitting and compelling rival to her, and it was essentially the demented chemistry between the two that made Orphan: First Kill the wickedly enjoyable and unnerving ride it is. While Tricia may have ultimately lost to Esther due to unfortunate circumstances, she will always be remembered as the fiercest challenge Esther has come across. The ending of the prequel also leaves the room open to explore some other adversaries Esther may have faced down the line, and that’s why Brent Bell isn’t ruling out the possibility of Orphan 3 either.